Santiago de Chile, the Chilean capital city, is a glistening modern metropolis situated at the foothills of the Andes. Head to the coast through the wine valleys and you reach the colorful coastal towns of Valparaiso and Vina Del Mar.
Santiago is a city of impressive vistas, pocket green spaces, cultural centers, a famous seafood market and a diverse South American architecture.
1. Cerro San Cristobal Mountain: Santiago from Above
Arriving in a new place I always love to see the city from above and Cerro San Cristobal has the best panoramic lookout. The mountain forms part of the Parque Metropolitano which is the largest park in the city.
To reach the top a funicular train runs up from Plaza Caupolican, although if this is not operating you can use a taxi instead (a road meanders up the hill sides to the top). At the top of San Cristobal is an open air church with a statue of Virgen de la Inmaculada Concepcion.
2. Mercado Central Fish Market
Mercado Central is the perfect stop for lunch in the many seafood restaurants (try Donde Augusto). The market is located in the Centro district adjacent to the river Rio Mapocho.
3. Citizenship Square & Bicentennial Flag
At Plaza de la Ciudadanía (Citizenship Square) stands the Chilean Bicentennial Flag, a tribute to the 200th anniversary of the Chilean Independence.
4. Palace de la Moneda, Plaza de Armas and Museum District
Palacio de la Moneda is the official office of the President of Chile. Close by is Plaza de Armas, the main square of the city. Other historical buildings in the Plaza include the Metropolitan Cathedral of Santiago. This area is at the heart of Santiago and contains stunning classical Latin American architecture.
5. Modern Santiago: Providencia
The Providencia District of Santiago is home to the Financial district. There are lots of high-rise apartments and buildings here. The Gran Torre Santiago pierces the city’s skyline as the tallest building in Latin america at 64 Stories (300m).
6. Cerro Santa Lucia
This landscaped hilltop park in Centro is a short walk up. When you arrive at the top there is an immersive vantage point overlooking the city skyline.
7. Casablanca Wine Valley
There are many wine regions within Chile which means that day trips to vineyards are accessible for most itineraries. The most famous wine regions around Santiago include Maipo, Colchagua and Casablanca Valley.
Casablanca Valley is located between Santiago and the port city of Valparaiso, which makes it an ideal stop off point for any journey out to these coastal towns.
Chile is world renown for their production of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Carmenere wines. Day trips from Santiago or Valparaiso can easily be arranged from most tour operators.
8. Coastal Towns of Valparaiso and Vina del Mar
Escape Santiago and travel to these colourful seaside towns. The town of Valparaiso and its smaller sister, Vina Del Mar (translates as “vineyard by the sea“). You will wander the streets of multi-coloured buildings along Valparaiso’s hillsides. If you just want to relax on a sandy beach then go to one of the beaches at Vina Del Mar.
Valparaiso is the second largest city in Chile.The port was once a strategic stop-over for ships sailing between the Pacific and Atlantic. But this changed after the opening of the Panama Canal. It’s nicknamed the “Jewel of the Pacific” because of it’s colourful urban design.
9. Ride an Ascensor in Valparaiso
The steep slopes of Valparaiso are linked with funicular railways. Ascensor Artilleria leads to a stunning viewpoint of the Port and City skyline.
Want to read more about Chile?
Read my 10 reasons why I believe Chile is the Best Adventure Travel destination to choose for your next trip.